Netanyahu ousted following Knesset vote

Likud: Netanyahu’s claim of ‘election fraud’ were not like Trump’s

Bennett, a tech millionaire and former special forces commander, was sworn in at the helm of an ideologically divided eight-party bloc united only by disdain for the country's longest-serving prime minister.

Under a coalition deal, Bennett will be replaced as prime minister by centrist Yair Lapid, 57, in 2023.The new government, formed after an inconclusive March 23 election, plans largely to avoid sweeping moves on hot-button global issues such as policy toward the Palestinians, and to focus on domestic reforms.

The upcoming crunch vote will either end Netanyahu's record time in office or, in case of a last-minute upset, return Israel to a stalemate likely to trigger a fifth general election since 2019.

Netanyahu, true to his reputation as Israel's "Mr Security", charged that "Iran is celebrating" the launch of what he charged would be a "dangerous" and weak left-wing government.

"For us, this is a big night, and tomorrow will be even a bigger day".

Bennett, a 49-year-old Orthodox Jew, will serve as premier for two years before Lapid, 57, a former TV host, takes over.

Commenting on his expected move into opposition, which will happen if Bennett's potential government gains the support of a majority in the Knesset, Netanyahu said that he and his Likud party "will be back soon".

Their patchwork coalition of parties commands only a razor-thin majority in parliament, 61 of the Knesset's 120 seats, and will still have to contend with Netanyahu - who is sure to be a combative head of the opposition. Those votes focused largely on Netanyahu's divisive rule and his fitness to remain in office while on trial for corruption charges.

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Bennett spoke before Netanyahu, but as he was trying to present his platform, allies of Netanyahu continuously interrupted him with shouts of "liar" and "fraud".

Being ousted from the top job leaves Netanyahu more exposed to his legal troubles, denying him the chance to push through legislation that could give him immunity.

Sunday's vote came at a time of heightened tensions in the Israel-Palestinian conflict, which has grown more bitter in the Netanyahu years, in part due to the expansion of settlements considered illegal under worldwide law in the occupied West Bank.

Bennett said his government would promote economic steps toward the Palestinians but any violence by Palestinians would be met by a strong response.

Right-wing Israelis are also angered over last week's postponement of a controversial Jewish nationalist march through flashpoint areas of east Jerusalem.

The "March of the Flags" is now slated for Tuesday, and the agitation surrounding it could represent a key initial test for a new coalition government.

Palestinians were unmoved by the change of administration, predicting that Bennett would pursue the same right-wing agenda as Netanyahu.

"The form the Israeli government takes doesn't change the nature of our relationship", said spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum.

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